All written at once. Intended to be a one shot comedy piece. Hope you all enjoy it, even if it is AU. I thought it was kind of fitting, really. Ah, clubbing.
I love oneshots.
Disclaimer: I own not the Naruto!
The smell of sweat and alcohol was pervasive. Lingering odors of cigarettes furtively smoked in bathrooms as well as outside were carried in by people's clothing. The crush of bodies laughing, yelling, swinging every limb available to the sound of the driving beat made her wish that for once Naruto could find a quiet spot to drag her to. She was sure Hinata at least would be grateful, since she spent most of these weekend outings sitting in the corner and fending off men trying to pick up on her. Sakura wished that she could garner such attention, but it seemed it wasn't to be. She looked and acted too independent, she felt, for men to feel comfortable approaching her.
Predictably, Naruto was not far away from where Hinata had staked out a position at a table, and Sakura easily found his bobbing blond head. He had been sidetracked into talking to some people Sakura couldn't recognize. Why Naruto knew people everywhere, she could never quite grasp, but even if she felt socially isolated at these events she never turned down the chance to join her good friend as he checked out a new club. This one had a distinctive rave quality to it that reminded her of her youth and the particularly outlandish outfits she had worn as a teen to go dance the night away. Excessive amounts of illicit alcohol and fake I.D.s had been a little beyond her comfort zone, even if she had often entertained the notion in her mind, but she had done her share of partying.
"Sakura! There you are! I just ran into Tenten, can you believe it?" Naruto yelled above the noise of the music and people, and Sakura knew that under the garish colored lights no one would see how pale she got at this information.
"Hey, Sakura, how are you doing?" Tenten had more difficulty being heard than Naruto, but Sakura read her lips enough to get the idea of what she had said. The strained look on the older girl's face told Sakura volumes about what else she could expect tonight. With any luck, she could hide away until Naruto was ready to leave and then life wouldn't have to get any more complicated than it already was.
Sakura put on her best smile, being an expert at outwardly projecting an image that did not correlate to her inner emotions. "Just great! Med school is great!" It wouldn't do to use complicated sentiments in this atmosphere. Tenten smiled and nodded, before wiping a bit of sweat from her brow. It was very hot in here and the closest windows were nearly a story up and providing very little breeze even if they did work to ventilate in the late summer heat.
"I think Lee is just finishing getting me my drink. The lines are so long! He wants to see you!" Tenten's words confirmed Sakura's fears and she had to use force of will not to let her eye start twitching.
"He's here?" Naruto looked elated at the news. Naturally, he was always happy to see a friend. He also benefited from not having an awkward relationship with him, unlike Sakura. When she was young she used to fantasize about having some wonderful loyal man who was kind and attentive to her every need. All Lee managed to do for her was shatter that dream by being exactly everything she wanted and yet be absolutely and irrevocably friendzoned the moment she met him. It was a bitter irony, and one which she wished for both their sakes that it wasn't true. However, in the two years since they had met, she had come to terms with this while Lee. . . got more persistent.
The familiar shiny black bob of hair was making its way towards them, and all Sakura could think to do was run. Lee might be faster than she was, but Sakura was canny.
"I need to use the bathroom, maybe get some air. Look, I'll be back in a bit. . ." Sakura smiled as sweetly as she could manage with teeth clenched from stress and made hasty tracks through the crowd again towards the downstairs exit. It took a while to push through, but at least she was assured some time to escape both by the fact that Lee had to bring a drink to Tenten and therefore would be stopped and talked to by Naruto, but also because she had mentioned the magic word 'bathroom' and he wasn't likely to wait outside of it and pounce on her the moment she exited. She wasn't planning on going to the bathroom anyway.
It wasn't that she didn't like the attention, in some ways, that Lee gave her, but his solicitous treatment of her made her feel uncomfortable. Sakura honestly felt like if he knew her, what was in her head, and not the mostly composed and polished girl she had trained herself to be that he wouldn't even want to be her friend anymore. Only Naruto got to see her bad side, but they had been together since childhood. He understood because he had been there for the teasing, the beatings, and every hurdle involving her many problems with men.
Naruto was like family and she wasn't worried about what he thought, but strangers were a different matter and even now Sakura had a hard time meeting or opening up to new people. That's why this tour of clubs seemed like a fun idea when Naruto had first started it at the beginning of the summer. She could meet new people and have some fun before her next term started and she was back to her intensive studying. It wasn't a lie when Sakura said she loved med school, but it was also difficult and terribly stressful.
So here she was, at another anonymous club in a part of the city she had rarely ever visited, with no way home except with Naruto and Hinata who were currently chatting it up with Tenten and Lee. There was always the option of a taxi, but Sakura didn't have that kind of money on her readily, not to mention the fact that the expense wasn't technically needed and she was a poor student as it was.
The clean cut and cheerful noise of the club pulsed behind her to a base beat that cut through the air, and Sakura took a deep breath before examining the stamp that she had gotten upon entering and paying the cover. A grotesquely smiling face, smudged at the edges, made her grimace in imitation. The air was cool by comparison and the sweat on her body was quickly drying. In stilted steps she started off in a direction that probably held a convenience store of some kind. Some bottled water sounded good right about then.
Alas for her, the streets laid out in either direction produced not a convenience store, but other kinds of store fronts, all dark and closed, a coffee shop and more clubs. It seemed that the one that Naruto had taken her to, the new one, was more upscale than the rest. The dingy exteriors had what she would kindly call 'character' but which she wanted to more accurately describe as dirty and scary. The sudden burst of sound when an entrance to one of these dingy clubs opened up didn't shock her nearly as much as the people that emerged. They must not have jobs that require them to pass through metal detectors, she thought to herself.
It made her evening that much more entertaining and frustrating when it was these people boasting a dearth of tattoos and piercings who gave her a look as if she were a freak. Automatically, she brought her hand to her forehead. They couldn't have been looking there, but old habits died hard. The rage that poured over her face instinctively at the emotional connections to memory that had never managed to erase themselves caused her to clench her fists at her side, balling up the small chain attached to her purse in her fist and driving the metal chain sharply into her palm.
"You lost?" The low masculine voice came from behind her, and she turned to face it rather than bother with any further trips down into the memory ditch of childhood.
He was short, maybe a little taller than she was and therefore below average height for a male at any rate, and the bright burning end of his cigarette was the first thing she saw. A thin line of smoke eked past his lips, and long pale fingers with black polish coloring the nails removed the cigarette while Sakura found herself unable to do much but stare at the man.
If she had not seen patrons exit earlier, she would have known exactly what kind of club this was judging from the appearance of this man. Black was the overwhelming impression, though he could have been in any dark color and looked the same. He was dressed in a tight shirt, torn creatively, with a layer of mesh exposed beneath it, not well fitted black pants made of a material she could identify in the low light out here but with patches containing various symbols on them, and boots that looked more serviceable than decorative. Making her way back up his body she noted a spiked collar, and then another necklace that dipped down into his shirt. It wasn't the clothes that gave her pause so much as all the makeup on his face, since it was far more than she was wearing. Eyes circled with eyeliner by a heavy hand made the irises in the center seem all the more shockingly green. Messy red hair that might have been spiked a few hours ago topped off the goth image that was coming off of him in waves. Whoever this boy was, he wasn't like anyone she had ever talked to before.
"Are you deaf? I asked if you were lost." Charming. She tried not to let her already awakened anger channel itself towards him.
"Why would you think that?" She asked with a saccharine tone.
He shrugged, bringing the cigarette up to his lips for another drag at it. "I could be wrong. But your type usually keeps their head down and keeps walking past places like this."
"My type?" She was curious, and on the verge of being belligerent.
His eyes swept her, categorizing her by her appearance as she had done to him. Maybe he lingered a little too long on the bare expanse of leg, or her hint of cleavage and exposed shoulders, but Sakura suddenly remembered that Goths didn't usually wear red halter tops or cute swishy blue skirts. She flushed, wanting to prove to this confident and slightly leering young man that she wasn't what he thought she was.
"You don't belong here, that's clear."
She was up to this challenge, even if she wasn't up to the one of facing Lee. "You think so? I think you should give me a chance before you judge me."
He narrowed his eyes and for a moment something flickered behind them that made her nervous, but whatever it was passed and with a sneer he dropped his cigarette and crushed it beneath one solid boot. The smile that spread over his face, all teeth and wide bloodshot eyes, again forced some uncertainty to cloud her righteous self-confidence in proving to this jerk that there was more to her than a surface image, than the perfect Sakura Haruno who she had created to make others react favorably to her. With these people all bets were off, her image actually worked against her, and she'd have to get by on personality if she was going to meet this challenge.
"What's you're name?" The predatory gleam in his eyes, now that she had his full attention, was the most disconcerting thing of all.
"Just as pink and pretty as your hair." He sneered. A huff that was actually a laugh initiated his movement as he walked past her and towards the entrance of the club. "Do yourself a favor and go back to where you came from."
I'll pulverize this runt. She seethed internally. "Coward. You weren't doing anything interesting. What do you have to lose by seeing whether I'm full of shit or not." The words were out before she could filter them. What was she doing? Being rude to a stranger? Inviting trouble just to prove a point to a random cute boy on the street?
This gained her something even more deadly than the glare he had been giving her as he softened the hard line of his lips into a real smile. With a start, she realized how handsome he was, now that he wasn't making himself as unpleasant as possible.
"I'll get you in then, and it's up to you from there. Sink or swim, I don't care. If you haven't bailed out by 1 a.m. I'd be surprised." So those were the terms. Survive until one. That was only an hour and a half, this would be easy.
"No problem. I'll find you at one, then." She took her watch out of her purse and put it on her wrist again.
The boy shook his head, hair stiff with gel not moving at all from the force. "Whatever. I'll probably be gone by then." He walked away from her, but Sakura trailed close behind and persisted in asking him for his name. The bouncer eyed the boy and then Sakura with a raised eyebrow pierced twice through. Once they were in the entranceway, and before he opened the door to blast them back with the din of inside, she put her hand on his arm and asked once more, politely this time, for his name. He gave her a look she couldn't read before answering.
"Gaara." Was all he said before he disappeared into the abyss.
It wasn't so bad, she told herself for the eleventh time in half an hour, once you got used to the condescending stares and the plethora of scowling pierced faces then it was just like every other night she had been at a club. After all, no one was talking to her, and in fact she commanded a rather impressive bubble of personal space considering how many people were in this small space. The music was no different in a lot of ways, ranging from loud and moody to loud and angry and with a beat strong enough to dance or mosh to depending on your preference. There were people setting up a stage so the music wouldn't only be piped in, it seemed. It had been a little irritating when the bartender laughed at her when she asked for one of her preferred mixed drinks, something foofy and exotic, and she concentrated on the tattoo of a thorny rose on the back of his bald head while he mixed her up a white Russian instead.
"Listen kid," the bartender, having had the better portion of an hour to watch her as she moved around and was ignored by the patrons as if she were a walking toxic waste barrel took pity on her. "Are you waiting for someone? Cause I think you might want to try up the street. . ."
"No, no, I need to show Gaara that it isn't fair to assume you know a person just by what you see on the outside." The alcohol in her system wasn't even giving her a buzz, but she recognized that the sentence didn't really make sense out of any sort of context.
The man laughed, fingering his mustache and pouring her out her third drink of the night. "Gaara, is it? This one's on the house, then." With no further explanation, he left to go take other orders.
While she pondered over her encounter with Gaara again as if to decipher what it was that would make him stand out in this kind of crowd, Sakura suddenly remembered that she had left her companions some time ago and they could very well be worried about her. The small cell phone in her purse couldn't get any reception, and the noise was too great anyway, so abandoning the drink she hadn't paid for and didn't really want she made her way into the bathroom in hopes of getting through to Hinata.
She was out of luck, still, and as she swore and shook the small piece of technology she saw a blond woman smirking at her. "It isn't nice to laugh at other people's troubles."
"I suppose it isn't." For some reason the woman's face seemed familiar, but with the layer of makeup on it could very well have been the general resemblance to any of the other women in the club. "But I was more curious than amused, if that means anything."
"Yes, look at the normie, stare at her bare face and non-torn clothing. Not a bit of black anywhere! Soon the preppies will storm the club and force us all to wear khaki!" The phone continued to insist that there was no such thing as reception. Sakura swore and slammed it shut.
The woman was looking at Sakura as if she were some sort of exhibit in a zoo, though Sakura felt like she was the one with more right to stare considering she wasn't the one in a purple and black banded corset. "So you really did make a deal with Gaara? You called him a coward, right? And even grabbed him?" She seemed slightly in awe of this, though it was muted and Sakura thought she might have been imagining it.
"I guess so. And now I'm stuck here for another forty minutes. Any chance there's a phone I could use inside somewhere?
The woman was laughing at her now, this cute little pink thing who was striking fear into the hearts of a few hundred Goths. "There's one in the office, but you'd have to talk to Kankuro about that."
"And who would that be?"
"My brother. He owns the place. I'm Temari."
Sakura realized that she'd have to start playing a little nicer with this person, the only person to talk to her besides the bartender, if she was going to get what she wanted without being forced to leave the premises of the club.
"Could you please take me to him?"
Temari tapped her lip with a finger as she thought. "Sure, why not. You've got some guts, I'll give you that, and I left my fan up there anyway."
They walked out of the bathroom, their bubble of space secured by Sakura's continued outcast social state and allowing them a quick path to an unmarked black door. Temari pulled out a key from somewhere within her fantastical outfit and opened it up. They went up a flight of stairs, and the door closed behind them, muting the noises below. A man was talking on a telephone and from behind he seemed to be the first 'normal' person she had encountered in this place, dressed casually, even conservatively with nary even a spot of coloring or glue in his red brown hair. Then he finished his conversation and swiveled around in his chair, and she saw the mass of purple tattoos on his face. . .
"What do you want?" He was brusque, like many of the businessmen she had known, and didn't seem at all shaken by the sight of Sakura no matter how out of place she might be.
"Can she use the phone?" Temari picked up a fan from the desk and unfolded it only to quickly close it shut again with a satisfying snap.
Kankuro eyed Sakura more closely, and his dark eyes lit up but his voice was still gruff. "No."
"This is the girl who Gaara was talking to outside." Temari added, unruffled by her brother's terse refusal.
"Oh, is she now?" He laughed to himself a bit, giving her a speculative look now. "Maybe we can make an exception then. Go ahead."
This was all very suspicious, but Sakura was more concerned with contacting Hinata and she quickly dialed up the number. She left a voice mail telling Naruto and Hinata not to worry and that she would get herself home by cab later. It was easier this way, since it meant she could cut out a return trip to the other club and a possible encounter with Lee. There was one thing off of her mind. Hinata was sure to check her messages, or at least more likely than Naruto.
Kankuro had lost interest in her, typing away on a computer, but Temari was waiting and the two of them made their way back down.
"Is this a lost cause?" Sakura asked the blond woman with a sigh.
"I wouldn't say that. Then again. . ." Temari gestured for Sakura to follow. They wound their way into a dark corner of the club, where an alcove hid a table. Sitting, doing what Sakura could only describe as brooding, was Gaara. He didn't seem to notice when they arrived, and Sakura reached out a hand to touch his shoulder.
Temari started and back away when Gaara made a fast movement, but whatever he was doing stopped when he spotted Sakura. He narrowed his eyes at her and then openly scowled when he saw Temari a short distance behind her.
"Yes? I thought you weren't going to bother me for at least another half an hour, if you were even here at all." Sakura sat down next to him without invitation and even though he was being unpleasant. Temari didn't join them and instead made quick tracks for some other location when Gaara shot her a look behind Sakura's head that Sakura couldn't identify in her peripheral vision. "I see my sister is being annoying as usual."
"I thought she was nice enough." She tried to be charitable, even if her impression of Temari had been mixed.
"You don't know her very well."
Was this boy purposefully this socially inept, or was this all just for her benefit? Sakura sighed, looking out into the writhing masses of people who seemed just like every other mass of people she had been in this summer. Should appearance make that much of a difference? The music over the speakers died down while a band began to set up. They were all in the same kind of black clothing and makeup as the crowd and someone gave a short bark of a cheer from the back. The sudden relative silence made Sakura's ears ring.
"Whatever you're trying to prove to me, yourself, or whatever. . . it's a waste of energy. I want you to leave."
Sakura looked at Gaara, a lopsided smile making her seem smug. "Why do I threaten you so much? I'll admit, I started this off because I was stubborn, but now I'm staying because I want to know what the big deal is with you. Can I find out from you, or do I have to go asking around?" This sort of directness, it was like she was without social filters again. It had gone up again as soon as she had been around other people besides him, even Temari and Kankuro, that glossy social plating that made her seem so perfect. It didn't seem to want to apply to Gaara, however, and Sakura was trying to figure out why.
"You seem like a smart sort of busybody, I'm surprised you didn't get the story out of someone yet."
His unflattering compliment didn't deter her. "In case you haven't noticed, I'm the new club pariah. That is, unless you hold the monopoly on that, because I see you're just as alone as I was."
Gaara blinked at her, his lips twitching at the corner a little bit before he took a deep breath and spoke in a voice so devoid of emotion that it actually frightened her. "I have a bit of an anger management problem." He flipped a switchblade out of his pocket, opening it up and shining the edge up to the dim lights. "And I rather like the sight of blood. . ."
Fabulous, she was sitting next to an asocial psychotic who was just as likely to stab her as to talk to her. Remembering Temari's caution and other people's jocular reactions to her antagonistic relations with this apparently infamous man, Sakura figured she was balanced on a wire in this. The sudden realization of how much danger she might be in gave her pause.
"But don't worry," he continued, his eyes leaving the gleaming knife and meeting her own similar shade of green. "You're as safe as anyone can get around me."
"How do you figure that?" She tried to keep her voice light, almost carefree, even if she was sure he was as deadly serious as that knife that was still clutched in his hand.
Gaara gave her another one of those toothy grins she wasn't used to enough yet to keep a shiver from running down her spine. "I haven't stabbed you yet, have I? If it was going to happen, it would have long before this."
Two more white Russians later, Sakura didn't feel at all threatened by Gaara. In fact, as she sat at the table with him and listened to the band, she started to feel downright companionable towards him. People danced, Sakura talked, and Gaara listened. All was right with the world, even if it was a world that was spinning a bit from Sakura's perspective.
". . . and so I wandered off to get some water and ended up, uhhh, here. Yeah." Sakura was drinking water now, having been reminded by the water of earlier in the evening of course she spilled out the story. Gaara listened, she assumed, with neither interest nor disinterest. He just was.
Gaara looked at her, as she picked her head up off the table and took another drink of water.
"I feel like an idiot. I should just tell him I have a boyfriend or something. Then I wouldn't have to worry about it anymore. Say, you want to be my boyfriend?" She laughed at herself, at her folly, and at her continued refusal to clearly define her relationship with Lee and therefore bring both of them pain.
For the first time in a while, Gaara actually answered her rambling, proving that he had kept at least half an ear open to when she was speaking. "It's 1:30."
"You could have left half an hour ago."
"I suppose I could have."
Sakura finally realized what he might be awkwardly hinting at. "You want to know why I stayed, I guess." It had taken a while, but she had figured it out not too long ago. The was the distinct possibility that it was still drunken rambling, but she knew that she was by far on the sober side and so plunged ahead. "I think, it's because you remind me of me."
The way he reacted, quickly covered shock, gave her all the reason she needed to elaborate.
"See, when I was a kid I spent most of my time alone. Oh man it made me sad. And then kids started making fun of me because of my forehead, and I just frikkin snapped one day in middle school. Beat some boy unconscious." Gaara looked at her as if he didn't quite believe her.
"It's true!" She insisted. "I know all you people think you're so misunderstood, and you want to stand out as much as possible, but can't you understand that everyone feels like that? I couldn't handle it. I may be dressed like this. . ." She pulled at her halter top a little and Gaara's eyes immediately went down to her chest and then back up to her face with slight color spreading across his pale cheeks. ". . . but that doesn't define me. I'm not a porcelain princess. I think terrible things, I'm violent, I'm selfish, and that's all part of me too."
"And how does this make you like me?" Gaara had his full attention on her, those intense eyes of his eating her up.
Sakura swallowed, her mouth suddenly dry and her mind all too clear. "You're just wearing the other side of it. Everyone's so scared of you. . . your flaws are all on the surface for everyone to see." She tried to laugh and dispel some of the intimacy that was suffocating her in this alcove with Gaara. "We're not very complete people, are we?"
"That could change." She thought she heard him say.
The kiss was sudden. His hands were wrapped around her head and holding her against him forcibly. It was inconceivable that someone so frail looking could be that strong. He tasted like cigarettes and she probably tasted like booze, but after the initial shock she found herself leaning in and responding to this kiss. They broke apart and Sakura gulped in air, completely at a loss, while Gaara studied her reflectively.
"You're the first person in years who has touched me without making me want to lash out. I don't know where you came from, but you're here with me now. I wish I'd never met you. You're going to make everything complicated." The wonder in his voice coupled with the lust lighting fires in his green eyes made Sakura want to back away from him, to run as far and as fast as she could.
"I was joking when I said you should be my boyfriend." She felt panic rise in her chest. Way to get lost and pick up a psycho on your first try. I think a car wreck would be the best way to end this lovely evening. Her inner voice didn't help her insecurities.
"I know." Really, he was so handsome when he actually smiled. She saw it coming this time, but found that not only was she unable to stop it but she actually leaned in to meet Gaara halfway in the kiss. She had always had a weak spot for bad boys, and Gaara seemed to be as bad as she was going to find.
This might have been the start of something wonderful, or it could have been the biggest mistake of her life, but at the moment, with his lips sliding over her provocatively, she couldn't care the slightest about which it might be. They broke away from one another for air again.
"Do you really think my hair is pretty?"
"Yes. Do you care that I wear more makeup than you?"
"Not in the least."
They came together and broke apart again, chests heaving, and Sakura realized that somehow he had moved his hand up under her shirt. Sneaky bastard, but oh he was a skilled sneaky bastard.
"I'm jealous and easily angered." She warned him.
"So am I."
A quick kiss prompted ended in a groan from Gaara as Sakura pulled away.
"Do you promise not to stab any of my friends?"
"I won't hurt them so long as they don't deserve it."
She looked at him, wondering if it was a joke or not. He removed his hand from under her top and ran it instead through her hair.
"Hell. . . fine. . . no stabbing."
Whatever this was that had started tonight, it was going to be a fun ride.